The Mill on the Floss

Are Tom and Maggie alone responsible for their fate [their dismal end]. Do you agree or not? Give reasons.

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The defining difference between Tom and Maggie’s characters seems to be decisiveness. Tom makes all his decisions deliberately and never looks back. This relates both to his willfulness and inflexibility, and his near obsession with justice - he can’t understand anyone else making a mistake, because he doesn’t ever believe he has himself.

Maggie, on the other hand, is completely indecisive. She will either feel so desperately torn between two alternatives that when she does make a choice, it seems random and she almost always immediately regrets it. Or she acts out of a moment of high passion with little understanding of the consequences, and again almost always immediately regrets it.

She cannot reconcile her cravings for individual expression with the places open for her in the community, so her emotions and desires are constantly in flux. Tom, on the other hand, has both more options and more opportunity for positive action, so he is able to act decisively because he has a clear path. Even though Tom is not as bright as Maggie, his determination and the opportunities available to him as a man engender success. It is not difficult to imagine that in a world that offered her gender more freedoms and ambitions, Maggie could have used her intellectual curiosity and emotional energy towards a greater purpose.